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Meet the Des Moines Women’s Novice Hockey League

11/3/2021

Mondays the women take the ice at Urbandale’s Metro Ice Sports Facility.

The Des Moines Women’s Novice Hockey Club allows women the chance at firsthand experience playing the traditionally male-dominated sport. From left: Catherine Hollinrake, Katie Doyle, Sara Patton, Marti West, Lucie Albin. Photo by Jeff Pitts

Des Moines Women’s Novice Hockey Club is a group of “amazing women” who want to learn more about hockey. But they aren’t interested in only accruing knowledge by being hockey moms or hockey wives or by simply watching hockey. Instead, these women are lacing up skates and slapping some shots of their own. 

Initiated in the summer of 2021, the club aims to grow the sport with new or fairly new female players from in and around the Des Moines area. The undertaking is the brainchild of Katie Doyle, who first started playing in 2019. 

“I’d played in the Wild adult (co-ed) hockey league,” she says.  “But then I thought it’d be fun to play with other women.” 

Doyle put her idea out there to see if others felt the same, and it turns out she wasn’t the only one. Not by a slap shot. 

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“We just started the second season,” Doyle reports. “There are about 30 people.” 

What: Des Moines Women’s Novice Hockey

When: Mondays starting at 8:15 p.m. 

Where: Metro Ice Sports Facility in Urbandale at 5100 N.W. 72nd St. 

Who: Spectators are welcome at no charge. For information regarding participation, costs and fees or other details, visit www.facebook.com/groups/788092285181171. 

Why: Catherine Hollinrake recently moved to the Des Moines area and says this has been a “great way to meet new people.” 

“More women should play contact sports,” adds Lucie Albin.

Why? 

“For the women,” responds a group of five club members (pictured) in unison.   

So far, the league largely consists of women who have had family or friends play the sport or who have otherwise been affiliated with the hockey community, but anyone is welcome. The group is diverse and boasts participants ranging in age from 15 to 60-plus. 

Initially, more than half of the participants had never used hockey skates before, let alone a full complement of hockey attire. 

Getting the necessary equipment can be expensive. To make the initial buy-in palatable, the league has benefitted from the Central Iowa D League, which donated enough to outfit 15 people or so. They aren’t on their own when it comes to putting this gear on, either. They help each other out. 

“We share the same locker room, and we all laugh together,” says Doyle. 

Practices are led by Katelyn Kerns, the league’s designated head coach. Warm-ups include a round of “drills and skills.” After that, it’s time to split up into teams and face off for games.  

A similar women’s-only team from Omaha recently visited to take on the new Des Moines club in an exhibition on Oct. 2 at the new Rec Plex in West Des Moines. 

“They killed us,” admits Doyle. 

But that’s OK, at least for now. The group is improving rapidly. 

“Some of our women didn’t know how to put equipment on prior to joining the league,” she explains. 

Still, more and more are wanting to play, and the future looks promising. The hope is to expand to four teams next year and to have set teams instead of choosing sides weekly. If you or someone you know is looking to lace ’em up and fulfill an ice hockey dream, you can find the group on Facebook.

“This has been one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done,” says Doyle. “To put on skates at age 45. … It has been great to see an amazing group of women and young ladies come together.”

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